It's that time again and I have taken a look back at the movies I really enjoyed in 2012. This year has been pretty not bad in terms of cinematic fare and it has been really difficult to whittle the list down to just 10. Honourable mentions should go out to Moonrise Kingdom, The Grey and End of Watch which were great but I just could not justify them making the selection. Overall, 2012 has thrown up its share of surprises but also some massive disappointments - Prometheus was a massive let down. But here are the films that I think were the best, in reverse order:
10. Life of Pi
Visually beautiful and probably one of only two movies worth stumping up the extra cash to see in 3D (the other being Avatar). The basic premise - boy cast adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Tiger - would be enough to put a lot of people off but the result is totally engaging. There is a level that would probably only be appreciated by spiritual audience members but the story is enough to appeal to people both young and old.
9. The Cabin in the Woods
I really liked this post-modern examination of horror films and I won't say any more because I'm determined not to give away any plot spoilers. All I will say is that although it wasn't massively scary, at least it had a brain.
8. The Hunger Games
AKA Battle Royale for kids. I was really surprised with how good this adaptation of a children's book was and although it was aimed at children the amount of violence is shocking, but this makes the message all the more powerful. It does what all great cautionary sci-fi tales do by showing us a remote yet all too familiar version of our own society - from the satirical look at reality TV to the widening gap between "us" and "them".
After the instantly forgettable Quantam of Solace, the Bond franchise returned with a bang this year in a film that seemed to be almost universally liked. With Javier Bardem lending the film his skills and credibility and Director Sam Mendes rediscovering what makes Bond brilliant, it certainly lived up to the hype. Yes, a piece of product placement was never far away, but it was a necessary evil to pull off something this big.
Three teenagers gain telekinetic superpowers in this genius sci-fi. Definitely one of the best found footage movies out of the recent spate (although there's not a lot of competition). It was pure wish fulfilment with a nasty twist.
5. The Dark Knight Rises
Before going into this all I could think was, "there is no way it can be better than The Dark Knight". Although I was blown away on the first viewing, my enthusiasm waned slightly second time around. Regardless it's still an epic, thrilling and ambitious comic book classic if it doesn't quite better its predecessor.
Ben Affleck reminded us he is not just the guy who played Daredevil once; he's also a really talented filmmaker with efforts like Gone Baby Gone, The Town and now this under his belt. At times hilarious and then nerve-shreddingly tense, this was another universally adored surprise - and rightfully so.
3. Avengers Assemble
How do you condense half a dozen separate characters and their back stories into two hours and still make a compelling and engaging narrative of your own? Ask Joss Whedon because what he pulled off in this film is no mean feat. Funny, crowd-pleasing moments are peppered into exciting, spectacular set pieces. For once, someone got Hulk spot on.
2. The Raid
If you haven't seen this Indonesian martial arts action film then make sure you check it out. A simple yet perfectly executed action movie with balletic fight scenes and good old fashioned thrills without the obtrusive CGI. Just pure fun.
This deserves top spot because it felt like there was something to it. It's one of those films that will leave you constantly questioning and having debates with your friends about for days afterwards. Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt perfectly captures his character as a young Bruce Willis perfectly. Like Inception before it, Looper respects its audience's intelligence while not getting carried away, maintaining a compelling story and thrilling action scenes.